The lawyer for a New Jersey man accused of assaulting a Philly cop during a caught-on-camera melee following his brother’s wedding early Sunday morning says his client is the son of a cop and innocent of the assault.
Matthew Sofka, 26, of Westfield, N.J., is out on bail on several charges including resisting arrest, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment. Attorney Fortunato Perri questions why his client was singled out during the brawl.
“From what we've seen, which is what most people have seen, is Matthew being subdued by members of the Philadelphia Police Department,” Perri told NBC10. “Prior to that, it does not show any assaultive behavior on his part.”
Philadelphia Police say they needed to use a Taser to subdue Sofka.
Up until Wednesday, only cops and witnesses of the caught on camera brawl had given their accounts of what happened when 75 to 100 people from two allegedly drunk wedding parties fought in the hotel lobby of the Society Hill Sheraton early Sunday.
Police say Sofka put one officer, Sgt. Sean Dandridge, in a head-lock that caused a concussion.
Viral video shows the utter chaos as dozens of officers try to break up the rumble in the hotel bar.
Perri says Sofka, the groom's brother, and the rest of the family's wedding party happened to walk into the Society Hill Sheraton when there was already a fight among members of another wedding party.
“One thing led to another,” Perri said. “Ultimately, the people who started this thing left upon arrival of the police. What I think is that some of our individuals were mistook for individuals involved in the previous altercation.”
An uncle of the bride, Vincent Sannuti, 57, of Huntingdon Valley, died of a heart attack during the chaos. There was no indication he was involved in the fight.
The death and the arrest have Sofka feeling terrible.
“He is extremely upset about what's happened here," Perri said. "He has a great deal of respect for law enforcement -- his father was a police officer in North Jersey -- so he's ultimately looking to clear his good name.”
Two other people allegedly involved in the fight were charged with disorderly conduct.
Sofka is free on bail awaiting his preliminary hearing on Oct. 25, according to court records.
Police reviewed the videotape and say more people could be charged. As of Wednesday no one else was charged.